This is in stark contrast to a school in Leyland, Lancashire which had a fire just days later (2 September) and has been almost completely destroyed, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, millions of pounds to re-build and disrupting the education of hundreds of children.
The fire at Cardinal Hume Catholic School in Wrekenton, Gateshead started in an electrical IT server cupboard on the first floor of the school on Thursday 22 August.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s Control Room received a call at 17.26. Within minutes three fire appliances arrived; one each from Gateshead, Birtley and Newcastle Central Community Fire Stations. An Operational Support Unit from Gateshead Community Fire Station also attended to assist with the clean up following the fire.
A child passing by the school spotted smoke issuing from the building ventilation system and called the fire and rescue service.
The school was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Firefighters had to break entry into the building where the fire was. Thanks to the sprinkler system the fire had already been extinguished. The fire caused significant damage to the IT server equipment but was stopped from spreading further due to the school’s sprinkler system.
Head Teacher at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Mr Hurn, said: “There is no doubt that having the sprinkler suppression system has significantly reduced the impact of the fire. The fire in the IT server cupboard could easily have spread to other items nearby and the rest of the school. The consequences of which are unthinkable – not only would it have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage but it would have caused real difficulties for the children in terms of delivering their education and the local community of which we are a part.
“I’d like to thank the firefighters for their support. They checked the fire was extinguished and assisted in clearing up the majority of the damage which has helped us to get back and running for the start of the new school year.”
“Fire safety is something you take for granted when you don’t need it, but when you do it is invaluable – it’s saved our school, the continuity of education of our pupils, workplace for our staff and a local community venue.”
Area Manager Kevin Hepple, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is an excellent example of the huge benefits sprinklers bring. The images of the school fire in Leyland were really shocking and showed how quickly a fire can spread and how much damage can be caused, not only to the building but to the school children’s education and community as a whole. Thankfully due to the sprinkler system in Cardinal Hume this didn’t happen here.”
Cllr Gary Haley, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority member said: “Sprinklers play a major part in fire safety; suppressing the fire, reducing its size and stopping it from spreading. Sprinklers are not only life savers but have ensured this school has been able to open in time for the start of an important year for the pupils at this school, unlike those in Leyland.”
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